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Full text of "Verdict On India"

MUSICAL INTERLUDE
repulsive, we must be quite sure that we hear the be&t.1 We there-
fore enter a rich car, driven by a giant in white and apricot, and
sweep through the gates of a great white palace.
This palace is the residence of His Highness the Maharajah of X,
who has kindly arranged that his private orchestra shall give us a
command performance of Indian music for our especial benefit.
The Maharajah is an intensely musical young man. It is
symbolical of him that though his drawing-room is crowded with
photographs of royalty, his Steimvay concern grand, in the corner
of the room, remains naked and immaculate. Everywhere else, on
tables, chairs, and bureaux, photographs abound in massive silver
frames, and from these frames the royalties seem to glare at one
another with niuraal distrust, till you would think the air was full
of whispers ('My crown is bigger than yours'.. ."you stole those
pearls from my aunt\ . /your ermine tails are coming off"). But
the Stcinway remains sacred, inviolate.
When the Maharajah first granted an audience, he had not been
talking for ten minutes before it was clear that what he did rxot
know about music was not worth knowing. Not only had he an
encyclopaedic grasp of the classics but he revealed a remarkable
acquaintance with the curiosa of music...faded arias from Bellini,
obscure fragments of Couperin ; at the same time his appreciation
of modern music was eager and sincere. He was even aware of
the existence of Benjamin, Britten, Michael Tippett and Alan
Rawsfchorne. which is more than can be said for the majority of
the British public.
There seemed to be only one gap in this formidable critical
equipment; he refused to discuss Indian music. When he heard
that I could not understand it, he merely smiled.
fc Surely one ought to understand it/ I insisted. * It oughn't to be
completely meaningless to Western minds ?   Or ought it ?'
Still he smiled.
A last attempt. wDoes your Highness think...?" But whatever
His Highness did or did not think, he was evidently not disposed
to discuss it. He waved his hand and changed the subject.
l-v
1 Europeans are by no means the only persons who feel tins way. The "Emperor
Attraagzeb once esclaimsd, from the depths of his sool: 'Let laiian music ba buried
so deep that neither voice nor echo shall issue from the grave/